Popeye’s introduced its new chicken sandwich late last summer. After a week of rave reviews, long lines and poultry passion, Chick-fil-A took to Twitter, without mentioning Popeye’s by name, to remind the public which chicken sandwich they fell in love with first. Popeye’s taunted back in the afternoon, “... y’all good?” The beef over chicken was on.
Normally one to avoid chains, I was compelled to get to Popeye’s. I had to try this life-changing sandwich. I pulled up to the drive-thru with hangry anticipation only to hear, “We’re sold out.” Gut punch. I simply drove off. Nothing could satiate me in this dark moment over white meat.
Eventually I returned to eating, but the craving for a great chicken sandwich never left. It became my mission. Chains be damned, I have to find the best fried chicken sandwich in Connecticut. My quest so far …
Roost • Hamden
The “Super Chicken”
Components: Potato bun, pickles, Roost sauce
Bird: Roost first uses the sous vide method for cooking. Then a pleasantly plump piece of chicken gets a gluten-free rub down and is fried in soybean oil.
Verdict: The thick, flavorful, crispy coating tends to overpower the chicken at times. 6½ out of 10
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Craftbird Food Truck • Hartford
The “Yard Bird Chicken Sandwich”
Components: Sesame seed bun, pickles, sriracha honey
Bird: There’s enough for a sandwich, but at this price point I want more. The quality of the ingredients is unquestionable, but it’s missing some of that fast-food funk.
Verdict: Craftbird has a sterling reputation and a terrific menu, but this sandwich fell short of expectations for me. 6 out of 10
Hen House Bar-B-Q • Southington
Components: Plain bun, lettuce, tomato, mayo
Bird: Nothing fancy, just the same great fried chicken they’ve been serving for over 30 years.
Verdict: I’m not a fan of lettuce and tomato in the fried chicken game; pile on the pickles every time. That being said, this is still a fine sandwich. 7½ out of 10
Cheek’s Chicken & Waffles • Wallingford, East Hartford, Manchester
The “Cheekin Sandwich”
Components: Brioche bun, cheese, pickles, chipotle sauce
Bird: The piece of meat is on the flatter side, so it sticks out from the bun on all sides. Light, crispy breading lets the fried chicken shine.
Verdict: A minimalist approach serves this sandwich well. 8 out of 10
Drumstik Bar-B-Q • Bridgeport
Components: Plain bun, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo
Bird: A 50-year family recipe for frying chicken combines with a big hunk of meat that doesn’t care to conform to the shape of the bun.
Verdict: Very similar to Hen House. Decades in the business must mean lettuce and tomato, unnamed sandwiches and tasty fried chicken. 7 out of 10
The Tasty Yolk • Bridgeport
The “Crispy Mother Clucker”
Components: Toasted bun, pickled slaw, Korean barbecue sauce
Bird: A generous helping of multiple pieces of crispy, delicious buttermilk fried chicken.
Verdict: A triumph from top to bottom. A sturdy but thin bun supports a pile of poultry, shovelful of slaw and a torrent of tangy sauce. 9½ out of 10 (just in case I find a better one)